Hello! If you're in Canada, I hope you had a great Canada Day weekend, and if you're in The United States, happy Fourth-of-July to you. If you're elsewhere, welcome ... I hope you're all having a good Wednesday!
We had our friend Andrea and her boyfriend over for a BBQ on Sunday. It was the first time we had the pleasure of meeting Geoff and we were glad to do so. Everyone got on well, as we talked late into the evening. As we relaxed, we looked up at the stars, finding the big dipper directly overhead.
As it is for many right now, we were (still are) in the middle of an extreme heatwave here in Toronto, so while I was setting things up outside, I wondered if we would be better off hanging out inside with the A/C on. But no, we stayed outside in the heat, keeping comfortable in the shade. No doubt, we were hot, but we Canadians will take it when it comes!
We decided on a vegetarian menu of grilled Halloumi Cheese, Portabello Mushroom Burgers and barbecued mixed vegetables. Those were served with slices of Nick's homemade pickles and hot peppers, tzatziki sauce, dijon mustard, ketchup and Matouk's Hot Sauce. (Ha, click that hot sauce link and you'll gat a blast from the past. It's one of the first blog posts I ever wrote here, 7 years ago and coincidentally also posted on a July 4th. Things have changed since then, but we still get Matouk's at Carlos' House of Spice in Kensington Market. In fact, we were just there getting some on Friday, and, I kid you not, Nick was wearing that same shirt!)
We'd never had Halloumi Cheese, which is "a semi-hard, unripened, brined cheese made from a mixture of goat's and sheep's milk, and sometimes also cow's milk, originating in Cyprus" before, although we have had Paneer, which is similar but originates in India. The attractive feature is that both have a high melting point, so can be cooked directly on a hot grill.
And now I know that I totally love grilled Halloumi! Yum!
As is usual, Nick did the cooking, and I helped out where I could.
↑ Here he is prepping ingredients, wearing his very Canadian Hudson's Bay print apron (thanks, mom!) ps. He would have worn that particular apron regardless of it being Canada Day, as it was the one in rotation! ↑
While we're inside, how about a quick look around? Most of what you'll see is not related to Canada Day specifically, but more about how we've changed things up for summertime ...
As we were getting ready, I realized we don't actually have much in the way of Canada Day decorations, except for a small flag that I picked up during the week, and a beer cozy which we've had for years. So, I pulled out some things we use for other holidays, which fit the Canadiana theme, including a Crocheted Maple Leaf Garland which I made for autumn, and a plaid flannel table runner that I made for Christmas. I added those to an assortment of various red and white things we had, and I think the holiday was captured nicely, without becoming overly patriotic. (Not that I'm not patriotic, but you know, too much can be too much!)
↑ The top of the corner cabinet was decorated with a mini collection of apples. The brass one is a bell and was a gift I gave to my grandmother when I was about 10. After she passed, my mom gave it back to me as a souvenir. It's a treasure, for sure. The marble one will be shown in detail in an upcoming "Thrifted Finds" post. The wooden one is a piece that I got from IKEA ages ago (like 20+ years ago), along with a few other wooden fruits. ↑
↑ The living room. There are the other wooden fruits from IKEA, along with some vintage fruits gathered from here and there, displayed on a tiered tray beside the sofa. The quilted lady-bug pillow sham is one of a pair that I found on ebay a long time ago but don't often pull out. That's the beauty of decorating with textiles ... they take next to no room to store, so you can have a variety! ↑
↑ There's the precious cat pillow that Nick got me for Christmas. Longer term readers will recall that we lost our adored cat of over 15 years, Eddie, last summer on June 9th. We miss him a lot. In fact, last summer I didn't go out on the deck at all, except to water the plants, as the memory of enjoying his company out there was far too strong to bear. So, this Canada Day bbq was the first time we've spent time out there in over a year. Sadly, both Andrea and Geoff also lost a beloved cat in the past year, so all four of us understood exactly how the others did, on that front. ↑
↑ A collection of vintage sewing boxes, which I use as intended. The one with the red-knobs is a mini-version of those expanding sewing boxes your grandmother may have had. This one was meant for a child. I got it on ebay. The chicken on the right is from the thrift store (seen here) and the Portuguese one is from an estate sale. ↑
↑ You saw this Crocheted Flower Garland recently, as it's a new make. The vintage lion piggy-bank was a thrift store found, included in this post. The hand-embroidered runner is also a thrifted find, shown here.↑
↑ The crocheted maple leaf garland previously mentioned, and a vintage tea towel. I have a collection of vintage towels, some that we use as intended, and some that we don't. I figured out this easy was to display the ones that are "being saved", and have been changing them out to suit the season. ↑
↑ Speaking of tea towels, our kitchen/lounge area are open concept, so visitors can easily see right into the kitchen, so the tea towels matter! For Canada Day I selected the vintage strawberry one that we actually use and a black and white gingham print one. (Further in the topic of tea towels, Andrea gave me three new beauties as a belated birthday gift. The lady sure knows what I like and I adore them!) ↑
↑ Here are a few serving pieces pulled out for the barbecue. The round glass condiment dish trio thing was a gift from my sister, who, knowing her, found it at the thrift store. The serving fork was one I got at the thrift store (shown in this post) and the stainless steel dish with bakelite finial is something I got at a vintage shop that used to be on Queen Street West. ↑
Now, let's head outside ...
↑ The table was set with a red, pink and white cotton gingham tablecloth that I found at Winner's one year in the post-Valentine's sale. The round cotton quilted place-mats were also a Winner's find. The linen napkins came from the thrift store (shown in this post) and the duck napkin-rings were a gift from my mother. The cutlery is vintage Oneida "Shadow Rose" stainless which I got from an estate, and the Corelle dishes are what we use everyday. The pattern is called "White Swirl", and while I pick up pieces as I find them at the thrift store, sets can still be purchased on Corelle's site here. ↑
↑ These Crocheted Coasters are still hanging in there, in their 4th summer of use. They have plastic sewn underneath, so they're waterproof, making them good to use for cold drinks on a hot day, given all the condensation created. I found the drinking glasses of various colours at Winners a few years ago. They're great for keeping track of whose glass is whose. As for what was in those glasses, we had this "Juice and Iced-tea Punch". ↑
↑ We have a maple tree near our home, that drops many seeds in the autumn. So, we end up with lots of random maple seedlings in the garden, which have to be pulled out in the spring. This year a left a few to grow, with the intention of seeing how they'd do stuck into a jar of water on July 1st. In spite of the heat, they did beautifully as a bouquet, and are still looking perfectly fresh today, 3 days later. And there's the small Canadian flag I got at Dollarama, and the aforementioned plaid flannel table runner pulled from the Christmas decorations. ↑
That's it for home decor; now onto the photos of the visit with friends ...
↑ There's the Halloumi on the grill. ↑
↑ Andrea made a pretty amazing pie for dessert -- Peach, Cherry and Apricot, using a recipe from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook, which we gave her for Christmas a couple of years ago. Haha, give someone a baking cookbook and you'll likely get some delicious treats in return! Note the cut-outs of cat-heads decorating the top, in honour of our three lost pets.↑
After writing this, with all the comments like, "this is really old", "we got this ages ago", "this was from the thrift store", etc, I realize that I have little to tell you about things to buy in the shops today. Hopefully, what is lacking in "where to get it" info will be offset by the ideas for ways to use second-hand things in your home decor, and the notion that it's good to hold onto the stuff that you have! You never know what your older self will wish you had kept!
Thank you very much for reading,
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